Each year, the National Book Awards honors the accomplishments of writers and their books. So it's only fitting that the host of the event reflects the commitment to lifting the voices of creators. While Drew Barrymore was originally chosen to fill this role in the 2023 awards, her decision to continue her talk show during the WGA strike led the National Book Foundation to rescind their invitation and find a replacement. Now, actor/director LeVar Burton—best known for his role in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the miniseries Roots—will be returning as host for the highly anticipated awards show.
In addition to his work on screen, Burton is also a prominent reading advocate. In the 80s, he hosted Reading Rainbow, which is a children's television series that helps promote a love of reading to kids, and in 2017, he began a podcast called “LeVar Burton Reads” in which he reads short stories. “The National Book Awards is an evening dedicated to celebrating the power of literature, and the incomparable contributions of writers to our culture,” the National Book Foundation says in a statement. “Our commitment is to ensure that the focus of the Awards remains on celebrating writers and books, and we are grateful to Ms. Barrymore and her team for their understanding in this situation.”
This is not Burton's first time working at the event, as he hosted it previously in 2019. In light of the WGA strike and book bans, he added: “It's an honor to return as host of the biggest night for books, especially in a moment when the freedom to read is at risk and literature both needs and deserves our recognition and support.”
The National Book Awards show will take place at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City on November 15, 2023.
Actor and director LeVar Burton is set to replace Drew Barrymore as the host of the National Book Awards.